Three unrelated stories all show the need to come clean when addressing a PR nightmare
It’s not easy to put “60 Minutes’” Lara Logan, alleged Miami Dolphins bully Richie Incognito and tiger-blood-infused loose cannon Charlie Sheen all in the same sentence, but this week, anyway, they have one thing in common: The half-assed apology.
Sheen’s Twitter olive branch to former boss Chuck Lorre might be the easiest to dismiss, simply because the actor’s behavior has been so consistently erratic the only reason anyone pays attention to his public musings is because, let’s face it, he’s good copy.
Fortunately, Sheen lives in an age where celebrities who are starved for attention — or prone to strange outbursts — have not only a vehicle to instantly disseminate their whims to the world, but a media that can’t resist craning its neck for any train wreck if it involves the rich and famous.
Incognito, meanwhile, chose Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, oddly, to offer a not-exactly-apology to former teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team on Oct. 28, amid accusations of bullying, threats and racial epithets.
Incognito insisted he’s not a racist, despite the insults hurled Martin’s way; said he was wrong to use that kind of language; and stressed that the relationship between the two men was more complicated than the coverage to this point might suggest. Mostly, the whole affair has forced the NFL and its media partners into the uncomfortable position of questioning whether a pro sports locker room is so unique that no rules governing workplace behavior apply, leaving analysts like former coach Mike Ditka calling Martin “a baby” for walking away.
Incognito’s interview with Glazer (again, not really the guy to seek out if you want to be perceived as completely coming clean) left as many questions as it answered — Martin telling his side of the story remains the big “get” in TV interview circles — a description which also applies to Lara Logan’s 90-second apology for CBS News’ botched Benghazi report at the end of Sunday night’s “60 Minutes.”
Once forced into the uncomfortable position of apologizing and admitting such an ostentatious error, the goal should be to put the matter to rest. Yet as Josh Marshall noted on the website Talkingpointsmemo.com, Logan’s apology was remarkably self-serving, making it sound like her interview with Dylan Davies was one flawed element within a larger story, as opposed to the entire story.
The bottom line is if “60 Minutes” wants to put this matter behind the show, CBS News is going to have to do a better job of explaining how they could so seriously err on a politically polarized story Logan claimed to have spent a year vetting in her initial defense of the broadcast. Honestly, maybe they should consider hiring Aaron Sorkin as a consultant on the art of tackling a major newsroom snafu.
In that respect, there’s one very clear link between all three of these public-relations nightmares: While those at the center of the storm have offered some version of an apology, if they really want to put these stories to rest, they’ve clearly got some more talking — and apologizing — to do.